Fulham FC are embroiled in a Premier League survival scrap – and new boss Felix Magath has turned to Hemel Hempstead teenager Cauley Woodrow to spearhead the Cottagers’ attack.
Woodrow, 19, started up front in the relegation six-pointer at Cardiff, before completing 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-0 win over Newcastle at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Fulham are still four points from safety at the bottom of the table, but the Cottagers are battling hard and Saturday’s win gives Woodrow and the rest of the squad hope of launching a great escape.
Magath’s arrival at Craven Cottage has marked a quick rise through the ranks for former Hemel Hempstead School pupil Woodrow, who had a loan spell at League Two side Southend United earlier this season – making 21 appearances and scoring four goals.
After training with Tottenham Hotspur as a schoolboy, Woodrow joined Luton Town as a 13-year-old in 2008 having attracted the attention of club scouts while playing for amateur side Buckhurst Hill.
By the start of the 2010-2011 season, he was in the first team squad at Kenilworth Road and made three first-team appearances from the bench in the FA Trophy that season.
His debut came 12 days after his 16th birthday as Luton won a first round replay at Welling United, and just four months later he joined Fulham for a six-figure fee that could exceed £1million, where he is contracted until 2016
And Fulham boss Magath says he had no hesitation in throwing his young charge in at the deep end against Cardiff.
“I see no gamble in it because he is a very talented player and I was satisfied with him” said the former Bayern Munich manager. “He did a lot of work for the team.”
Woodrow was part of the Fulham U18 side that won the 2011/12 Premier Academy League and he scored in a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in the final of the competition.
A tally of 12 goals in his opening nine matches for the U18s the following season earned Woodrow promotion to the U21 team, and he is now relishing the chance of making his mark on the Premier League stage.
The youngster was only given a squad number the day before the Cardiff clash as he was thrown in to the starting 11 before being substituted with 14 minutes to go.
He said: “The manager hadn’t given me any indication in the week that I’d be starting so I was a bit shocked, to be honest.
“I found out on Friday I’d be travelling and thought I might get a place on the bench so I was delighted to be told I was starting about two hours before kick-off.
“I was more surprised than nervous as I didn’t expect it. The lads helped me through it and when you’re out on the pitch you quickly forget about any nerves.”
Woodrow is in contention for a place in the starting line-up when Fulham travel to Premier League title favourites Manchester City on Saturday.